Whether you're hiking in the backcountry or working in the yard, the great outdoors is rife with potential first aid problems. Prepare for the worst by understanding how to respond to some of the most common outdoor injuries. If one of the following happened, would you know what to do?
- Cuts, Scrapes, and Other Wounds: Although most cuts, scrapes, and wounds are minor, they can quickly become serious if unaddressed. Reduce the risk of infection by responding appropriately. First, apply direct pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. Use gloves or another barrier to protect yourself: never use your bare hands unless there is truly no other option. Press down for five to ten minutes. If the bleeding hasn't stopped, continue for another ten minutes. Clean out the wound with clean water, use an antiseptic spray to disinfect the area, and apply a bandage.
- Muscle Strain: It's easy to lose your footing while hiking or overdo it while playing an outdoor sport. If you have a fall that twists a knee or ankle, assess if you need urgent medical help. If the pain is minor, you don't have any excessive bleeding, and you are able to move, find a safe place where you can rest. Take ibuprofen to help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. If you have one in your first aid kit, use an elastic bandage to wrap the injured area.
- Dehydration: Finding uncontaminated sources of water while on the trail is tougher than you might think. Combine this with the exertion that comes from hiking and it's easy to see why dehydration is a common issue while spending time outdoors. When it comes to dehydration, prevention is the best cure. Don't head out without at least two liters of water. Bring more than this amount if you anticipate a long or strenuous hike. If carrying enough water isn't practical, bring a filter to clear harmful pathogens from natural water sources. If all else fails, boil water before drinking. If you become severely dehydrated, hospitalization may be necessary, so make sure you have a way to contact help if you need it.
- Reactions to Insects and Plants: From mosquitoes to poison ivy, the great outdoors is full of irritating plants and insects. If you're working or playing in an area known for either, take pains to dress appropriately. If you find yourself bitten or stung, inspect the site. Use a credit card or another flat object to scrape away any stingers you find. Wash the area and apply calamine lotion to help reduce itching. Use a similar strategy for plant irritation. Wash the affected area well, then apply calamine lotion.
You never know what could happen while spending time outdoors. Approach your next adventure with first aid knowledge and a well-stocked kit to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable experience.